I’m sure that many of you are aware of the so-called “housing crisis” that’s plagued the U.S. over the past few years and I thought I may mention our own story.
We bought our home in June 2006 which you may or may not know was the month before the absolute peak of the housing market. We paid 240K for a 2 bedroom/1 bathroom house on 1/2 an acre in a local town. It was within our price range, had a good layout, and it was a good “start” for a young couple just starting out. With the soaring housing prices we were afraid that if we didn’t jump in at the moment, we were going to be left behind and priced out of owning a home in a future. Real Estate has always been a pretty “sound” investment, so we didn’t think twice about diving into purchasing our home.
The loan process followed and that should have been our first omen of doom. We had to insist over and over again on a fully documented loan rather than a “stated loan” which they kept forcing on us. They also kept implying that we should get a 5 year interest only loan insisting that we could refinance long before the 5 year mark and possibly get a better interest rate. We demanded a 30 year fixed loan. We didn’t want surprises. We didn’t want any uncertainties. We didn’t want to put ourselves in a financially compromised position.
Finally, after weeks and weeks of going back and forth with this loan company (which was recommended by our Realtor which was a friend of the family so we trusted her blindly) we signed our loan docs. We felt it was finally over, that we’d succeeded in the purchase of our home.
And so we moved and made ourselves a home. We loved our home, repaired our home, painted our home, and although the weeds sometimes got out of control, we reigned them back in. We always paid our bills and above all else paid our mortgage on time for 4 years even when it was struggle. We did what every other home owner does to save their home…we robbed our savings account, we didn’t take our paid vacations opting instead to take the money and bank it for the months we were short. We hardly ever left town and when the price of gasoline went up to $4/gallon here in California, we only went to work and then came home. We were miserable and we saw our dreams fading. And then our hours got cut. We went from barely making it to not making it at all and that’s when we decided that we just had to let it go. Our home, which we loved, had become a monument of failure.
So, in December of 2010, we left our home to create a new one almost 30 minutes away. It’s a fresh start, but it will be MANY years before I feel confident enough to buy a home again, and I still feel bitter and angry whenever I look at house listings. It feels like we did everything right despite the lenders trying to tempt us to take the easy way out and we still got burned. Our almost 800 credit score will take 7 years to fully recover. Sure we can buy again in 3-4 years, but do we really want to?